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Trump Asserts Executive Privilege Over Census Documents As House Votes on Contempt

How do you feel about Trump asserting executive privilege over census documents?

by Axios | 6.12.19

On the advice of the Justice Department, President Trump has asserted executive privilege over subpoenaed documents related to the House Oversight Committee's investigation of the Census citizenship question.

The big picture: The House Oversight Committee is preparing to vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt Wednesday for refusing to turn over subpoenaed materials. The committee is investigating whether the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was politically motivated, a controversy that could have major implications for future federal funding and redistricting.

Ross has defended the citizenship question as necessary to enhance the 1965 Voting Rights Act, despite the Census Bureau's own analysis that it could scare households with non-citizens into low response rates.

  • A 2015 study conducted by a now-deceased GOP gerrymandering strategist concluded that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would "clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites," according to court documents filed in a legal challenge.
  • That strategist went on to help write a draft Justice Department letter that argued the question was essential to enforce the Voting Rights Act, the same defense that Ross and the Trump administration have used.
  • The Supreme Court will rule on whether the question is constitutional by the end of the month.

What they're saying: Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he would delay the contempt vote until this afternoon so that members of the committee could read DOJ's letter, but he slammed the administration for its "blanket defiance."

"The DOJ’s letter says that they were prepared to produce additional documents responsive to the subpoena. But they make clear, very clear, that they will not produce the key documents that we have identified as priorities. This does not appear to be an effort to engage in good faith negotiations or accommodations. Instead, it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated responsibilities.”

Go deeper: 2020 Census could be worst undercount of black and Latinx people since 1990


Written by Axios

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